Saturday, March 17, 2012

Painting the Wainscot


White is an easy colour choice to make when painting.  It's a good backdrop for furniture, it mixes well with other colours.  It's neutral and palette cleansing.  White walls can allow you to draw attention to other features in a room.  We painted our piano room white at first.  I make the choice sound profound now but really I think there was just some extra paint in the basement that sealed the deal for us.

I thought white would contrast well with all the dark wood work in this room.  The wood made everything appear much darker and smaller than this room really was.  The light colour in contrast I felt would brighten the room up and show it off.  Although we didn't stick with white I'm glad we did this first because it gave me a chance to see the room, not as the previous owner decorated it, but in a more neutral manner and assess it's positive and negative points.  One of the details that came to light was the extra band of wood several inches above the wainscot.  This had been used to create an accent colour on the walls but once again, this wasn't an original detail and it wasn't one we were keen on.  Goodbye rail!

The top rail was removed so only the wainscot was left.
It was about this point that differences in opinion arose.  Wainscot is something that really appeals to me.  I love that look of paneled walls but hubby was not impressed.  He pointed out that, once again, it wasn't original!  How could that be?  What the heck was original in this house anyway?  The boards as you can clearly see in the above photo were short.  In traditional construction that would never have happened.  We use short boards today because we are more careful about our wood consumption and use as much of a tree as possible.  In traditional construction only perfect boards would have been used.  They had a surplus of wood a hundred years ago when north america was still overflowing with resources.  Using wood that wasn't the correct size or had knots in it was unheard of.  Imperfect wood went straight into the fire.  Despite the arguments I was still reluctant to see this go so a compromise was made.  We painted it.


A dark cream colour to offset the bright white above.  And it looked pretty darn good I think.  The short boards and the knots were no longer as noticeable.  The room now looked bright and cheery and appeared considerably larger to the eye than it had with the dark greens and browns of before.


And at that point we declared the room 'finished' for a time.  At least until summer and humidity came calling.

21 comments:

  1. It's fun to see this room transforming bit by bit in each blog post. How frustrating to have to undo others' renovations, but now it's your turn to make this home yours, even if it isn't strictly, authentically original.

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    1. I'm sure many home owners find themselves in similar situations when it comes to renovations. You find yourself wondering, why was this done in such a way? I'm realizing we all have such different needs from our houses and styles of decorating that it's impossible to find a house that you don't feel the need to change in some way.

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  2. Marguerite girl I think this is spot on !
    We have wainscoting in the family room and I would love to do the same thing .. I do think white makes a room seem light and large .. we had the whole house painted white before we moved in .. the painter said to me "You do know that coloured paint is the same price right ? "
    I laughed .. .. he had no idea about our furniture from Holland .. big chunky dark wood .. we needed white until I could make up my mind about colour .. which I did for the kitchen .. that nice light yellow .. the bathroom, upstairs, in cream .. one bedroom in two walls of blue .. another two walls in sage green (light)
    We do however have a med blue in the entrance way and leading down the hallway of the top floor .. I would like to have that painted a light creamy yellow (can you tell I love yellow ? LOL) .. it makes a huge difference in our homes .. the pain colours .. it is very personal and it makes us feel good when we get it right !
    Joy : )

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    1. Joy, love that you painted everything white to start. I found it really helped us clear our heads and make a decision. Yellow is a wonderful choice I think, still bright but a nice dose of colour to add a little jazz.

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  3. When I saw that rail in another photo you posted I wanted to write and say...well ahem...no better not. Way to go M. It looks fantastic gone and wow, what a beautiful job. I absolutely love it.

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    1. LOL, this is the funny part about decorating. Everybody has their own style! Even between myself and hubby it's been a roller coaster trying to find something we can both agree on.

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  4. I've grown very attached to your 'Green Gables' house. Such fun to follow renovations like a lady, thru the virtual version.

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  5. (PS is there an enable avatar button for you to click. We're all blueheads!)

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    1. Thanks for pointing this out Diana. I took a quick look at fixing this but it's a bit more complicated than I have time for today. (as usual it should be simple but isn't!) Glad you're enjoying the 'virtual' tour of the inside of our house.

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  6. I think you made a fine and classic choice. But I am glad not to be the one painting it, all that masking....not my favorite job.

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    1. Donna, you won't believe how many times we've painted and repainted in this house. We're becoming experts with frog tape.

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  7. I just read your previous post, Marguerite, and am enjoying the story of your house renovations. For over 25 years we lived in a home built in the early 1900's, so I do understand what a long process this can be. But older homes have so much more character than newer ones, I think, that trying to restore them is worth the effort. The painted wainscoting looks nice and was a great compromise. Interesting that years ago they threw away "imperfect wood." I guess we're paying for that waste now.

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    1. I was really surprised about how wasteful they were with wood too. Hubby worked on a museum project some years ago where they rebuilt a historic town and that was one of the things he learned at his time there.

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  8. The compromise loooks wonderful. I really like the contrast of these two colours together. Our house is all a natural shade of light white with very white trim. It makes it easy to decorate around especially when you have bright colours and lots of pictures. I love that cute desk and chair. Where did you find such a nice set? It reminds me of a table set my parent had when we were very young.

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    1. I'm having a small laugh here because that desk was a table before my hubby got his hands on it. I think everyone had one of those formica tables a few years ago. I think you're the only one who recognized it for what it is. This particular table came out of a neighbouring house that was being torn down and was the original prototype for a desk hubby built that was eventually taken to the Interior Design Show in Toronto. The chair came from Hardy's in Ch'town, I couldn't resist the bright floral pattern.

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  9. Hi Marguerite: The wainscoting looks wonderful, what a difference a few cans of paint make! We are painting our house here in Muskoka to freshen it up for when we sell it. When I see how many people are renovating I feel better. Can't wait until we are at the point in our old farmhouse we are renovating when we can paint..homes, gardens are always in progress it seems, always evolving..I take lots of pictures of before and after too. We will be in King's County in May if you are over that way...Happy Gardening Lannie

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    1. Lannie, I would love to see your new home in Kings. One of the things about gardening is the constant evolution as plants grow and change but I'm beginning to realize houses can be like that too. This room has shifted considerably since we first moved in, if we didn't have the photographic proof of how it looked originally you would never guess it was the same place.

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  10. Great transformation. I like the cream /white combination. Also glad you saved the wainscoting.

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  11. I'll give Jody the credit for the colour combination. He saw that white on white in his mind and it worked very well.

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  12. You know, when I was looking at that dark wood I thought to myself - "I'd paint it!" Yes, really. BUT I would never have thought of the white/cream combination but it really works!

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  13. Hi Marguerite, Great before and after! I have never been a fan of walls divided in half and so I think that you did the right thing in painting the wainscotting. The end result looks 100% better!

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